Friday, August 31, 2012

Dokdo Shown as Korean Territory in Japanese Textbook?

Dokdo in Japanese Textbook?

Any expat who's spent a bit of time in Korea -- say, five minutes -- has already heard an earful on the Dokdo issue, those two rocks in the Sea of Japan (known to Koreans as the East Sea) that are claimed by Japan but possessed by Korea. Both countries point to maps as proof of valid possession, but the maps are often obscure and the arguments convoluted. Officially, my position is that Dokdo belongs to Korea. Unofficially, how would I know? I'm no expert. But to my relatively uninformed mind, Korea has a stronger claim, and for two reasons.

First, when Japan officially declared Dokdo (which they call Takeshima) to be Japanese territory in 1905, they did so on the basis of terra nullius, namely, that the rocks were land unclaimed by any state, evidence that Japan was not basing its official claim on longstanding Japanese possession.

Second, Japan actually seems to have considered the islets as Korean possessions, according to an article in Wednesday's Korea Herald, "Japan's old textbooks show Dokdo as Korean territory" (August 29, 2012):
Japanese textbooks from the late 19th century, written and published by the country's Culture Ministry at the time, indicate Dokdo as Korean territory, the Independence Hall of Korea announced on Tuesday[, noting that these] . . . textbooks -- mostly from the 1880s and some from the early 1900s -- prove that Japan's current claim over the islets is false . . . . "These books were written and published by the Japanese government at the time," said the Independence Hall of Korea institution, after unveiling five textbooks and two sets of maps of Japan to the public . . . . "This shows that the Japanese government did not consider Dokdo as part of their territory before Japan took over the islets during the Russo-Japanese War in 1905. This is another clear proof that Japan stole Dokdo even before it annexed Korea."
I'm a bit perplexed, however, by the map shown above, for its English caption reads as follows:
A map in a Japanese textbook published by the nation's Culture Ministry in 1896 shows Dokdo as belonging to Korea. The shaded areas around the Korean Peninsula indicate Korean territory and Dokdo is shown within them.
The Korean caption, however, uses the date 1887, which left me wondering if that were the actual date given for the textbook in the photo. Both dates are before 1905, of course, and either date would therefore establish Korea's prior claim -- if the tiny easternmost island depicted on the map represents the Dokdo islets (very likely) and if the shaded areas do indicate possession (entirely plausible) -- but carelessness never inspires confidence. I tried contacting the Korea Herald with the following query:
Dear Ms. Lee,

In the online article on Dokdo:


I see two different dates beneath the map: 1887 in Korean and 1896 in English.

I am intending to post a blog entry on this textbook, so I need to know which date is correct.

Also, does the textbook explicitly state that the shaded areas are national territory?

I ask not to challenge (since I side with Korea on Dokdo) but to clarify.

Best Regards,

Jeffery Hodges
In return, I received this from the "Postmaster" at the Korea Herald:
Action: failed
I tried from a different email. My wife then tried from hers. All three failed. So much for the Herald's openness to its readers. Meanwhile, the JoongAng Daily, in an article by Kim Hee-jin, "Old Japanese textbooks state 'Dokdo is Korea's'" (August 30, 2012), seems to clarify the date as 1887, for apparently the same map is depicted. Neither map identifies the island, so far as I can see, though the island definitely looks correct for Dokdo's position.

But I'd still like to know for certain if the Japanese textbook with this map explicitly states that the shaded areas are national territory . . .

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At 7:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you stop to think that maybe they just made a typo?

At 7:29 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I don't have to stop to consider that. As an editor myself, I am always open to the possibility. But I didn't think this was a typo, for the difference between 1896 and 1887 requires two typos. Possible, but less likely.

I think the article confused two different textbooks instead.

But either way, the article is careless.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 8:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jeebers Perfesser Jeff, don't you recognize the implications?

"...has already heard an earful on the Dokdo issue, those two rocks in the Sea of Japan (known to Koreans as the East Sea)..."

If there is indeed a transnational argument about two rocks - I'd hope you'll get to work expunging everthing you've ever posted that mentioned the Ozarks.

I'd hate to have the Census Bureau on my ass for mis-stating my country of origin.


At 8:08 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Rock on, JK, rock on!

Jeffery Hodges

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At 9:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My position is... I don't give a hoot. Both the Japanese and Koreans are like two old hags pulling each others hair over a grain of wheat. Especially the immature Koreans resort to constant whines and cries.


At 9:17 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I don't care much as an outsider, but I do like to know the truth of the matter . . . as a historian.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 9:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sure, you're right. Just there are literally hundreds if not thousands of much more serious territorial disputes all over the world. And the Koreans' only known way of solving problems is by lamenting, yelping, finger pointing, sobbing, threatening. Those billboard and newspaper adverts in America are nothing but pathetic.


At 9:49 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Yes, I agree -- but you left out finger-cropping!

Koreans know too little history of other nations, else they would not say that Korea has been subjected to so many invasions. They speak as if that's a risk to living on a peninsula, not realizing that they're protected on three sides by water! Would they prefer to be Poland, cut up three times in modern history and disappearing from the map for generations?

And as for renaming bodies of water . . . I demand that the "Gulf of Mexico" be renamed -- say, "Gulf of North America."

Jeffery Hodges

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At 11:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Check that 'Gulf of North America' nonsense. Make that, The body of water that opens to the Land of Opportunity.

Just don't mention to either the Koreans or the Japanese there're two rocks here too - the one one's left foot is standing on - the one one's right foot is fixing to be standing on.

Well, maybe three rocks - oh heck, since they're arguing over rocks tell 'em the Ozarks is a place pert near the Mississippi Delta.


At 11:09 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

JK, we need only wait on global warming for the Sea of Opportunity to reveal itself.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 11:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, I believe some Polish folks wouldn't be able to count how many partitions of Poland there were, let alone recalling any further details. There are some fussy whiners in Poland as well, but they are on the margin and are not taken seriously, although from time to time they try to get attention, e.g. with some conspiracy theories behind the air crash which killed our former president. Happy is the country that has no history.
Koreans don't know their own history either. It surprises me how few of them know anything about Jeju uprising, Kwangju or Bodo League massacre and many more. How very few know anything about the cruelty of Korean troops in Vietnam. Japanese were no angels, we all know that. Just finished reading the account of World World II in the Philippines and the cruelty of Japanese soldiers appalled me. They almost made Wehrmacht on the eastern front look like friendly allies, but leave the past in the past and enjoy the present. Minseo got a postcard from his classmate and the girl wrote on it "may the Buddha protect you from the Japanese." Stupidity like genes is past down from parents to their children.

I think they'd probably have nothing against calling it Gulf of Korea. Or at least a Gulf of Kim Yuna.


At 11:36 AM, Blogger John from Daejeon said...

As a historian, you might want to ask an impartial scientist to do some carbon dating. However, that hasn't been totally conclusive concerning the Vinland map, and it's not like Koreans have never cheated or taken shortcuts before as the "evidence" could easily have been planted.

Anyway, as the original saying goes, "possession is eleven points in the law, and they say there are but twelve."

At 12:56 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

"Or at least a Gulf of Kim Yuna."

That renaming will happen only if Hell freezes over . . . but if it does, so will that great gulf, and Kim Yuna can skate to her heart's content.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 1:01 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Yes, I suppose the authenticity of the textbooks themselves would need to be established. If these are authentic, then there should a lot of those texts still lying around -- the late 19th century isn't long ago.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 3:15 AM, Blogger Ghost hunting said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 7:25 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I deleted the above comment by "Ghost hunting" because of its language, but here it is, suitably censored for a family-friendly blog:

"You people don't know much about Korea, so shut the f*** up! because Koreans don't whine or cry to solve problems... we only speak the truth by evidence okay? And when things started to go quiet.. they always start a fight by distorting the history...jacek i recommend you to read korea history book! and you Jeffery you need to realize that koreans are peaceful people!!! and that my friend we didn't renamed the bodies of water!!! it was recorded far back in the history that it is not Sea of Japan...But rather East Sea...."

And you, G.h., need to learn some manners so you'll address others with respect, make fewer assumptions about people's knowledge and motives, avoid vulgar language, and even take time to write more clearly. For instance, who is "they" in this clause: "they always start a fight by distorting the history"?

Jeffery Hodges

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